By Ed Oswald | Monday, June 6, 2011 at 11:53 am
“We’re gonna demote the PC and Mac to just be a device. We’re going to move the hub to the cloud.” That was Steve Jobs’ opening remarks as he debuted Apple’s newest service called iCloud. As you’d expect, this is essentially a reboot of MobileMe.
Jobs admitted that its launch of MobileMe wasn’t the best, and that the company “learned a lot” from the experience. It better: Apple is committing an awful lot to the cloud. Contacts, Calendar, and Mail have all become iCloud apps, with their information synced directly to the cloud and pushed out to all iOS/Mac OS devices.
Other apps getting the cloud treatment would include the Mac App Store, which would keep devices synced with apps purchased as well as the redownloading of old apps through a purchase history function that is curiously missing from the current iteration of the Mac App Store.
Document syncing is now supported — seemingly replacing the company’s iWork.com beta that has seemingly languished — and allows for changes in Pages, Numbers, and Keynote documents to be automatically pushed to all devices.
Photo Stream is another new cloud feature, where your last 1,000 added photos would be synced among all your devices. Obviously, earlier photos would stay on the devices they’re taken on, but others would be automatically synced. At the keynote, Eddy Cue demoed this: a picture taken with his iPhone almost instantaneously appeared in iPhoto on his Mac.
iTunes will also get the cloud treatment, allowing songs to be synced and stored via the cloud. One click would sync a purchased song on one device with all other connected devices. This is important because previously if your original machine had lost files, and the song wasn’t synced elsewhere, you were out of luck.
Best of all — and one of the features of Lala — is something called iTunes Match. For $25 a year, iTunes would scan your ripped songs, and deliver to you 256 kbps equivalents. It really looks like there would be no differentiation either — so you may be getting an easy way out of trouble with RIAA with this feature.
Apple is opening up iCloud to its developers, shipping APIs which would allow those interested to build cloud functionality into their services if they so desire.
iCloud will be free to any Mac user, a welcome change from the $99 yearly fee that had been a part of the previous incarnations of the service, including .mac and MobileMe. Like MobileMe, iCloud would be available to PC users as well.
By default, iCloud would be disabled, but would ship with iOS 5 itself (although a beta would be available for iOS 4.3). So if you want the service, all you need to do is turn it on. And 5GB of storage? For a free service, that is certainly generous.